Yancy Gates .
(photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/BSL)
Hapoel Jerusalem drew first blood in its BSL quarterfinal series against Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday night, claiming a hard-fought 75-67 win at the Jerusalem Arena to take a 1-0 lead.
Jerusalem ended the regular season with 15 victories from its final 17 games, but was made to dig deep by a gritty opponent on Sunday, only ultimately clinching the win in the final minute.
No. 2 seed Jerusalem led for almost all of the first half and took an eight-point gap (40-32) into the break.
The visitors fought back to tie the score at 52-52 ahead of the final 10 minutes and nerves began to take their toll as the game drew to a close.
A Yancy Gates basket brought Tel Aviv back within a single point with 2:15 minutes to play, but Tony Gaffney’s three-pointer with just over a minute remaining opened a crucial cushion, with Jerusalem scoring the final seven points of the night to secure the victory.
Lior Eliyahu led four Jerusalem players in double digits with 16 points, with Donta Smith finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Gates had 21 points and nine boards for Tel Aviv (7), which hosts Game 2 on Thursday.
Hapoel Eilat dominated Maccabi Haifa in Game 1 of the series between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds on Sunday, claiming a 95-74 home win.
A 17-0 run in the first quarter gave Eilat a 15-point margin (19-4) and put the hosts in the driving seat. Haifa closed within two points (51-49) midway through the third period, but Eilat replied with an 11-0 surge to reestablish a double-digit lead from which there was no return for the Greens.
Afik Nissim led six Eilat players in double figures with 18 points, while Will Graves had 17 points for Haifa, which will be hoping to bounce back when it welcomes Eilat at Romema Arena on Wednesday.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv (1) faces Ironi Ness Ziona (8) in Game 1 of their series at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
Maccabi will have to manage without swingman Sylven Landesberg, who was ruled out for the entire post-season last Thursday with a fracture in his foot. That leaves the yellow- and-blue with just three senior Israeli players, Yogev Ohayon, Alex Tyus and Jake Cohen, causing coach Guy Goodes a serious headache with at least two Israelis having to be on the floor at every point of the game according to league regulations.
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